Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
- Community Blog
For the love of Baseball
It is 75 degrees, light afternoon breeze, and a hint of anticipation in the air. Baseball season. The San Diego Padres opening day at Petco Park is on Monday, April 12. I stand on my patio, look south and there it is. Close enough for a nice walk. It is a nice ballpark, but I wish there was a requirement that people who actually go to ballgames have input about the design. For instance, field level seating is prime and should be welcoming to whomever will sit there. Instead, Petco Park has long, long rows of seats. If you happen to have a seat near the middle, you have to walk in front of 15 or so people. What happened to box seats? In Anaheim, pre-Disney, field level boxes contained 8 seats, 4 & 4. You never had to disturb more than 3 and if they were your relatives it seemed okay!
When I was much, much younger, I recall the transistor radio that was practically glued to my ear for about 6 months of the year. I listened to Ernie Harwell & George Kell calling the games. They were 2 of the best. I waited with anticipation for the radio announcement: Detroit Tigers baseball is on the air. My mother was a real baseball fan. She had perfect attendance in high school, until her senior year. She skipped school on an October afternoon to attend a World Series game.
I lived in Anaheim in the franchise's early years. I could decide to attend a game, wander over to the "Big A", buy a field level ticket and never wait in line. I don't recall the numbers, but I would guess attendance was around 7000. In 1979, the Angels had a good team. I went to 79 games!! It was incredibly fun. Then along came the Baltimore Orioles. Everybody knew they were a great team and the Angels lost the playoffs, at home. The fans, including me, stood and cheered "we want the Angels". The players were in various states of undress and they came out of the dugout to acknowledge us. It was phenomenal & I was there! That was when the Angels developed fanship. Season ticket sales increased dramatically and group events were very popular. I would buy 100 seats, right field next to the Angels bullpen and had no trouble selling them. The 'fun' part was laying the tickets, in formation, on the floor and deciding where people would sit. My sister and I had lots of laughs using sticky notes and arranging, rearranging & arranging again!!!
I am a baseball fan. When I moved to San Diego, I went to a Padres game at Qualcomm. It was different. I had never really paid much attention to the National League. When I finally decided to buy a season ticket, I got lucky. The rows of seating on Plaza level had an uneven number. Most people buy 2 or 4 tickets. I only wanted 1. There were 5 or 6 choices & I picked section 29, row 9, seat 3. Behind home plate with some great people all around.
With the start of construction on Petco Park, I decided to move downtown. I made it a practice to walk by the construction site once a week. Then, good ole Mr. Henderson, messed it all up. He filed a lawsuit purporting to represent the interests of the populace of San Diego. WRONG, not me. This delayed the opening of Petco Park, for some years. Now it is within walking distance and love it.
So, there it is, a synopsis of my love of baseball. I could write many more articles about the feats I've watched, including the 1968 World Series (Detroit Tigers defeat St. Louis Cardinals in a 7 game series). I suppose the first is always the most memorable.